Wow, you state it was the 1960's, but even back then it's amazing that someone could get away with selling a commercial product that could fail in such a spectacularly dangerous way during normal and expected use! It's a good thing you didn't point the iron toward's your other arm, or anything else you want to keep functional, when you picked it up that time.
The crux of my objection to your post is that the product spectacularly dangerous
nature was tolerated...
So while soldering you've never, even momentarily, had your other hand or arm in straight-line path of your soldering iron? I don't mean just right in front of it, it could be on the other side of PCB or inches away grabing a solder wick, etc...
No I haven't. Doing so is simply careless, and hence risky, even if the hot iron doesn't fail as described.
Recall that Doc mentioned the heating cartridge's final resting place was the ceiling, if he was in a room with standard height ceilings that cartridge had plenty of energy to hurt someone. Also while losing a chunk of a hand or arm isn't fatal, it's something most people generally want to avoid.
As a young engineer I remember throwing pencils into the ceiling on light afternoons... Doesn't take much energy and as such I doubt the problem made the device spectacularly dangerous
. I also have no doubt that the problem was fixed when it was discovered.
All of that is really besides my main point however... The Ungar soldering iron in question was not only potentially unsafe, it was completely unnecessarily so. Some risks are innate and intrinsic to an activity or device, the "nature of the beast" as it were. However, as previously stated, if an electrically powered soldering iron has a chance of any part of it exploding during ordinary usage it is seriously flawed. Even an inexpensive hobbyist type of electrically powered soldering iron that is decently treated should have no more chance of explosion than a well made and properly used hammer has of falling apart in your hands. Finally, setting aside the danger it might mean to the user, why is it so unreasonable to demand that a soldering iron not violently destroy itself in the course normal usage?!?!
There is a world of difference between potentially unsafe (of which almost everything is( and spectacularly dangerous
I don't expect life to be to completely safe, not only is that impossible it would be boring as well. However in my experience, reasonable people don’t usually take unnecessary risks. If they choose partake in activities that have innate risks, they also mitigate them to the extent it’s practical to do so. That’s not being risk adverse, that’s being smart!
People take unnecessary risks all the time. The problem is that people refuse to take responsibility for those risks, hence claiming a defect iron is "spectacularly dangerous" when in proper use, even the defect wouldn't cause personal harm...
Ok now I’m starting to think you are just trolling me, either that or you are letting unchecked nostalgia seriously delude you.
Here’s why, we are having this discussion on an internet forum dedicated to artists, hobbyists, and various other non-professionals (although there are professional engineers posting as well) from across the entire globe using palm-sized microprocessor boards that are many orders of magnitude more computationally powerful than most computers existing during the 1960’s. Furthermore, the people on this forum are using these devices to improve or change any almost conceivable aspect of their daily lives, or just for the heck of it. You can read about numerous home automation projects, robotics, remote sensor networks, computerized telescopes, home weather stations, etc… even high altitude balloons and rockets with multiple sensors and telemetry! What more do you want flying cars, jet packs? Spend 15 minutes with Google and you’ll probably find someone, somewhere, at least attempting any manner DIY project you can think of, you just need to open your eyes a bit.
The problem with comparing the creative output from today to what was done in the sixties, is like comparing the relative genius of the person who created the first transistor and someone who wires up some off the shelf devices to make a "computer"... The level of achievements that arose from those risky days, is not something that we are achieving any longer. Granted there are still roughly the same number of genius's producing astounding work, but given the sophistication of the the tools now available, the amount of the astounding work should be orders of magnitude larger than it is, when in fact it hasn't increased much at all, and frankly has likely gone down on a per capita basis... In my opinion, one factor is people complaining about products that are unsafe... I for one truly miss that I can no longer purchase the types of chemistry sets, and other material for my grandchildren.
And while that might be partially nostalgic, unless your old enough to have lived through that time period (which I doubt from the references you post) you really do not posses an appropriate frame of reference to make that judgement...
In any case, I doubt continuing this digression will have much further use or interest to anyone.